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News: Lexus UX Subcompact Crossover Debuts

Geneva Motor Show First to See Entry-Level Lexus SUV

Lexus introduced its all-new UX subcompact crossover at the Geneva Auto Show yesterday. Slotted at the bottom of the brand’s expanded SUV lineup, below the compact NX, it offers a new entry point to the brand, which offered the first luxury hybrid vehicle 15 years ago.

The vehicle sits high, but it’s not intended for traveling off pavement, although all-wheel drive is available. The small SUV is aimed at people in their 30’s—youthful, but with families and things to haul.

Lexus UX

Lexus fills out its crossover lineup

The 2019 Lexus UX will come in two versions when it arrives at the end of 2018. The UX 200 employs a new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower running through a new Direct-Shift continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Hybrid Version Coming

The model Clean Fleet Report is most interested in is the UX 250h hybrid, which uses the same engine as the UX 200, but combines it with Lexus’ fourth-generation hybrid drive system.  

Lexus UX

From the inside, the outside is just beyond

The Lexus design language, the now traditional spindle grill, is apparent in this vehicle. However, it uses a new block pattern, with shapes that change gradually as they move away from the center. So, it looks different depending on where you view the car from. In the rear, full width tapered taillights use 120 LEDs to create a unique nighttime signature for the baby Lexus crossover.

Inside, Chika Kako, the chief engineer of the UX, used ideas from Europe to create a clean, uncluttered look. The UX features new materials and textures with a traditional Japanese look, including a trim finish inspired by Japanese washo paper. There is also a leather option for the upholstery that mimics sashiko, a customary Japanese quilting technique used in martial arts uniforms.

An Inside/Outside Blend

There’s a Japanese housing concept that blends the inside with the outside, which Lexus evokes in the UX. The instrument panel appears to connect directly to the hood when viewed from the inside or the outside of the car.

Lexus UX

Lexus jumps into the hot subcompact SUV segment

Based on the new Global Architecture–Compact (GA-C) platform, the UX boasts the lowest center of gravity of any vehicle in its class. It’s highly rigid, too, while the front MacPherson struts and rear double-wishbone suspension are tuned for smooth and not-so-smooth city streets.

The UX 250h’s new-generation hybrid system blends the engine and a motor to achieve a projected 176 horsepower. There’s a new compact and lightweight transaxle and power control unit. The nickel-metal-hydride battery and cooling system are tucked under the rear seat, so they don’t take up any valuable passenger or cargo space.

In the UX 250h, Predictive Efficient Drive combines three new technologies to maximize efficiency. Predictive Efficient Drive analyzes your driving habits and predicted road conditions to optimize hybrid battery charging and discharging. Predictive Deceleration Support monitors driver behavior and can tell when the car is likely to slow down or stop. Then, it increases regenerative braking for more efficient energy recovery and recharging of the battery. Predictive State of Charge control for the hybrid battery works on downhill roads and in congested traffic to predict the route when the navigation system is being used.

There’s a new high-efficiency 17-inch, five-spoke wheel available. It was designed using computer simulations and wind tunnel testing to increase airflow to cool the disc brakes without compromising the car’s aerodynamics.

Lexus will offer the F Sport option with either trim level. It brings in special suspension tuning. You also get unique exterior styling, including the F grill mesh, fog light bezels, a different rear bumper, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Inside, sport seats hold you in place and the instrument panel features the F Sport moving outside ring design. The steering wheel and shifter wear dimpled leather covers, and aluminum pedals shine on the floor.

The subcompact crossover segment is growing, and the UX will make Lexus very competitive there. Pricing and fuel efficiency information for the UX 200 and UX 250h will be released closer to the end-of-the-year on-sale date.  

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About Author: Steve Schaefer

Steve Schaefer has written a weekly automotive column for 26 years, testing more than 1,250 cars. Now, he’s focusing on EVs and hybrids. Steve remembers the joy of riding in his father’s Austin-Healey. After discovering the August, 1963 issue of Motor Trend, he became entranced with the annual model change, and began stalking dealers’ back lots to catch the new models as they rolled off the transporter. Coming from a family that owned three Corvairs, Steve was one of the first Saturn buyers, earning him a prominent spot in their 1994 product catalogue. To continue the GM tradition, Steve now has a Chevrolet Bolt EV. Steve is a founding member of the Western Automotive Journalists. Recently, Steve became a Climate Reality Leader, trained by Al Gore, and is focused on moving to EVs and 100% renewable energy. Read his EV/hybrid blog at stevegoesgreen.com.

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